Senate debates

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


World AIDS Day

7:05 pm

Photo of John FaulknerJohn Faulkner (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Last Sunday, 1 December, marked the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day. This year's theme is Getting to Zero. The Getting to Zero campaign aims to reduce new HIV infections, discrimination and AIDS-related deaths to zero through increased advances and equal access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care.

The AIDS pandemic, caused by the spread of the HIV infection, has been one of the most destructive diseases in human history. The statistics are alarming. According to the 2012 UNAIDS worldwide statistics, over 60 million people have been infected with HIV since 1981. There are currently 35.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Over 25 million people have died from the disease. The most alarming statistics are in sub-Saharan Africa where there are currently around 25 million people living with HIV. Each day, around 4,400 people are infected. And each day around 3,300 people die from AIDS on the African continent.

The Australian World AIDS Day website indicates that last year there were 1,253 new cases of HIV diagnosed in Australia. That is a 10 per cent increase in diagnoses from the previous year. Equally concerning is the prevalence of HIV-AIDS and AIDS in our region. The 2012 UNAIDS report, HIV in Asia and the Pacific—getting to zero, indicates that in 2009 there were:

… between 4.5 to 5.5 million people in Asia and the Pacific living with HIV.

It goes on to say:

… the vast majority of people living with HIV in the Asia Pacific region live in 11 countries: Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Papua New Guinea.

In Papua New Guinea in 2009 there were between 30,000 and 39,000 people living with HIV, between 2,100 and 4,800 new HIV infections, and 1,300 AIDS related deaths. These statistics show alarming rates of HIV infection and AIDS related deaths in PNG—far higher, of course, than here in Australia.

Recently, Nobel Laureate and Myanmar opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, speaking on World AIDS Day, launched AIDS 2014, a major global health conference to be held in Melbourne next year with 14,000 delegates from 200 countries. She warned against discrimination towards victims of the disease, drawing parallels between the plight of sufferers and her own struggle for democracy in Myanmar.

It is critically important that the fight against HIV-AIDS in Australia and globally remains a policy priority. I acknowledge the work so many are doing here in Australia and overseas to meet this challenge and I know that this is a sentiment that is shared by all senators.